Unfortunately, driving and (kids) eating just don’t mix. It’s not worth the risk of choking.
As a CPS technician, I can’t tell you how many times a parent apologized to me for their car being messy, sticky and crumb covered. I have always said there is a simple solution to that, don’t let your kids eat in the car.
Why it’s not a good idea
It’s not just about the crumbs. I went on to explain further that it also would be safer because what happens if your child starts choking in the car while you are driving. It puts you in a very dangerous situation. If your child is choking how calmly do you think you can safely yet quickly pull over?
According to the New York Department of Health, choking is the fourth leading cause of unintentional death in children under the age of 5. Motor vehicle accidents are the primary cause of accidental death in children ages one to 14. It may be smart to not combine the two possibilities.
“I always recommend that my families have their children eat while sitting, and avoid giving toddlers food while in the car,” says Dr. Lisa Dana.
Often times parents wouldn’t even realize children are choking unless they are looking at them as kids typically can’t make any noise to alert you that they’re choking.
What to do instead
I know this seems extremely inconvenient, especially with toddlers who can get extremely loud when they are unhappy or hungry or both, which also can pose a challenge to driving safely. Perhaps try liquids; sippy cups and food pouches are great for driving.
The most common culprits for children choking, according to the data, was
- hard candy (16 percent of the cases),
- followed by other types of candy (13 percent),
- meat (other than hot dogs, more on that below) (12 percent),
- bones (12 percent),
- and fruits and vegetables (10 percent).
Interestingly, the researchers found that while seeds, nuts and shells only accounted for 7 percent of the nonfatal cases, and hot dogs only 3 percent, they were more likely than other foods to require hospital admission.
Keep all the passengers safer by not allowing young children to eat in the car. And you’ll get the bonus of keeping your car cleaner longer.
Steps that Could Save Your Child’s Life if Choking
DON’T WASTE A MOMENT: If the object doesn’t come out when they cough, act immediately. Look to see if there is an object, but take it out only if you think you can reach it without pushing it further down the throat.
FROM BIRTH TO ONE YEAR OLD: Lay the baby face-down, with their head lower than their body. Give five firm blows to the back between the shoulder blades with the flat of your hand. If the airway is still blocked, turn them over on your arm, with the head still low. Using two fingers in the middle of the chest, push down a third of the depth of the chest. Check the mouth after each push and remove any obvious obstruction. After three cycles of back blows followed by chest thrusts, dial 911 and continue cycles. Never do an abdominal thrust.
FOR CHILDREN AGED ONE TO PUBERTY: Place the child over your knee and give five back blows. If this doesn’t work, give up to five abdominal thrusts. Stand behind them and place a fist between the navel and the bottom of the breastbone and pull inwards and upwards. If the obstruction does not clear after three cycles of back blows and abdominal thrusts, dial 911 for an ambulance and continue the cycles until help arrives.
By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004
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This post was originally published November 2013 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.